Medical negligence is a wide legal area, covering all areas of medical care – from the initial diagnosis of a condition, to the actual treatment and the after-care provided. Thus medical negligence cases can involve injury or illness resulting from failed surgical procedures, poor standards of hospital care or a failure to accurately diagnose a condition in the first place, amongst a number of other forms of negligent medical care. Therefore it is no surprise that companies specialising in personal injury or illness resulting from medical negligence are kept busy, and that sometimes major cases make the news headlines. However there are also a lot of serious medical negligence cases prosecuted by these firms which do not make the news.
One form of medical negligence which can have devastating consequences both for the victim but also for any family and/or dependants is that of injury or illness arising from the misdiagnosis of a condition. This can lead to the wrong course of treatment being prescribed – potentially worsening the condition that the patient is suffering from. It can also ensure that a potentially curable condition worsens to the point that it becomes incurable. Although this scenario is closest to what actually occurred in the case in question, fortunately the negligent diagnosis did not lead to a fatality. In this case the patient involved, a 25 year old man, was referred to the urology department of a major hospital, by his GP after the man had complained to him of feeling pain and a lump in his right testicle. The doctor employed by the hospital diagnosed an infection and a course of antibiotic treatment, failing to take an ultrasound or to schedule a follow-up appointment to check on the condition.
It was the patient’s GP who organised an ultrasound, five months later, following the failure of the initial treatment. This discovered a cancerous lump in the patient’s testicle, which required surgery and chemotherapy and the medical negligence case centred on the belief that, had the case been correctly diagnosed at the initial stage, the chemotherapy treatment would have been unnecessary. The hospital trust concerned eventually settled out of court for medical negligence compensation rather than attempt to defend the treatment offered.